If you are considering a home project that requires plans of your home you might be wondering where do you go to get them.
If you are lucky and your home was built in the past 15 years or so the company that built your home may have included a set of plans when you bought the house. However it may cost you a few hundred dollars for a set because architects that design homes don’t really want their work walking all around for others to sample and reuse. They expect you to hire them again or they will want to redraw any plans from start if they are hired to work on a remodeling job and not depend on originals.
Some people have suggested that you can go to your local building official and get a copy of the plans and in some areas you might be able to for a fee. However if the home was built before about 1985 it is highly unlikely that they saved copies of your home’s plans because prior to that homes were designed with paper and pencils not computers. In recent years they may have a file or a PDF version of your plans but that is not a very normal practice it would be up to each building official and the government that controls the office like the City, County or other to provide funding and storage for all of this.
On the other hand the county most likely will have a copy of your plot plan because it is used for tax purposes. A plot plan is the measurement of your property with descriptions and it will show outlines and locations with some measurements of any improvements such as a home, garage, barn or other large structure or water well or variance for your property.
It might be worth a call but I would not expect anything prior to about 1980 to be in their system other than a plot plan.
As Built Home Plans
So what are you to do if you can’t find a copy of the originals and no one you contact has one that they can provide for a fee. You have two choices you can draw your own if the work to be done does not require professional plans or you will have to hire someone to draw what is called.. As Built .. plans.
As Built pretty much describes it. They are plans of the structure as it stands today. They will include any improvements and alterations since it was first built and may be more accurate since contractors often build a little different than an Architect tells them to build.
If you were drawing up plans for an attached deck or for a garage or an addition then you will not need a full set of plans for the home. You will only need to show the structure of the building as you believe it has been built where it comes into contact with the new structure.
If you were building a master bedroom or kitchen off of the back of a ranch home you don’t need to show all of the parts of the original home. Just the attachment and important parts of the structure such as roof line, framing and foundation.
So it is possible to draw these plans up yourself if you were considering something like a non-structural remodel of a kitchen or maybe pulling out a non load bearing wall between a kitchen and living room but for much more you will probably need a contractor to hire an architect.
You can also hire an architect on your own but since a contractor can factor this into your bill and they will know exactly what the building official requires of them it might cost you less if a contractor submits the plans on your behalf. Again this all depends on how you decide to manage your project and how much control over it will be in your best interest.
If you have a home being built whether it is a custom home or one that a developer is offering you should ask for a copy of your plans at closing. Again it may cost you some money but it can be worth it.
However a better thing to do is to walk your construction as it is being built and take many photographs of the framing before the drywall goes up. Knowing exactly where a stud is in the actual wall is more important than where an architect suggested it be placed. I am not sure if contractors even care sometimes when they are building they just go by what they know and hope it passes code.
There are some great free and low cost cad programs out there that will allow you to draw your own plans but there are tons of garbage programs out there that market themselves to inexperienced people. The product may be free but it won’t be easy and if you see something that says build a home in 12 clicks or .. we have all these sample chairs and table… nahhh stay away from that garbage.
You want something that can save CAD files in standard formats such as .dwg .dxf .pdf files and normally they are described as which version of AutoCad that they are compatable with.. Its like getting a Microsoft Word file for MS Word 2.x.. you know it will not stand up to todays standards with markup.. SO when you need some of this software make sure it says compatible with all new and current versions of a few high dollar CAD programs.